Posts Tagged ‘Marsalis Teague’

Giving Your All, the Rough and Tumble Way

No Pass Out Checks | Gate 21

It’s been a bumpy couple of weeks for the Tennessee Volunteers and their fans, on that there is little room for debate.

First, the Vols lost to Florida in a “moral victory” which amounts to losing gallantly.  The Vols then went on to beat a scrappy Ohio Bobcats team in less than runaway style, but as I said at the time: “a win is a win.”  Then, this past weekend, the men in orange were bested by the Auburn Tigers and Gus Malzahn’s semi-deranged (but highly effective) form of offense.  Finally, Lane Kiffin gave Brandon Warren his walking papers as a result of what Kiffin described as “conduct detrimental to our team.”

For my part, I have had little to offer on these issues due to my ridiculously overloaded schedule.  Trust me when I say that it was not for lack of desire or lack of observations that I have been so quiet.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) I now have a little time to pontificate, so here we go…

Auburn and “Johnnie Cochran” Offense

Gus Malzahn is either a genius or a madman depending on whether you are a fan of the Tigers or are their opponent.  His offensive sets are as entropy-filled and outlandish as they are effective.  One of the keys to its function is to make an opposing defense deal with the constant distraction of the seemingly endless arsenal of quasi-trick plays that it includes.  This bevy of distractions vying for the attention of opposing defenses, reminds me of pretty much every argument ever made to a jury by Johnnie Cochranfocusing on the distraction rather than the fact.

Still, there is a lot of fact to Malzahn’s ability to mask his plays and to run unconventional sets regularly and successfully.  I personally cannot remember seeing a game which featured as many reverses and double-reverses as the Tennessee — Auburn contest.  I know that I have never seen a true pooch punt (seemingly taken right out of General Neyland’s own playbook from the 1930s) in person.  To Malzahn’s credit, he has taken a lackluster unit that barely produced anything other than narcolepsy in 2008 and transformed them into a machine which scores tons of points and gives defenses fits.

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Vols 63, Western Kentucky 7: The Day After

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

It was Western Kentucky and lawvol did an excellent job with his version of this post (as in better than mine’s going to be), so I’ll keep this relatively brief.

Judging by the atmosphere on campus before the game and during the game in the student section, you would in no way have thought Tennessee’s opponent was possibly the worst Division I-A team in the country. I found this out on the long walk from my apartment down the Cumberland Avenue “Strip” and through the heart of campus on my way to the Vol Walk. I managed to get an up-close spot fort the spectacle, and I’ll have a video from it at the end of this.

The new JumboTron is awesome, especially when they take the ads off and make it full screen (click to enlarge)

As for the game, I’ll start with Jonathan Crompton. Sure, the tipped balls are worrisome and the first interception he threw – though not his fault, said Lane Kiffin – was the awful kind of pass he would have made last year. Other than that, he really didn’t have that many incompletions.

He looked confident. He looked poised. He managed the offense very well (I can only remember one substitution penalty and procedure penalty). He was 21-of-28 and threw five touchdowns for goodness sakes. Sure, it was mostly the short passing game.

But if your quarterback struggles with making multiple reads (as Crompton did in 2008), you don’t make him do that. You let him take the snap and throw it to a wideout against a corner playing off the line and let the playmaker get some yards in space. You throw the short hitch. You get Crompton rolling out with options short, medium and long. Heck, Crompton even slid when he had to scramble.

The receivers played well enough to make you forget the injuries. Luke Stocker caught two scores. Marsalis Teague led the way as a freshmen and is going to be a great player. Quintin Hancock deserves a shout-out.

But this day belonged to the offensive line. Crompton had time to throw and that only helps him. And the line opened enormous holes and got great push on just about every play, as was evidenced in the stats. Hopefully they stay healthy throughout the year, because watching them open lanes for Hardesty, Bryce, Oku and Poole (let’s not forget about Toney WIlliams, either) could be really fun to watch if they are able to keep it up.

The defense was swarming and Western Kentucky had no time to do anything – at all. I thought the linebackers played pretty well, but we’ll have to see how they go up against stronger, faster opponents in the future. Janzen Jackson was the first freshman to see the field defensively, and, like Teague, he’s going to be a great player. I thought Wes Brown also played very well: well as in fresh, considering everything we’d heard about him all preseason were the bad condition of both of his knees.

To conclude, anytime you dominate a team 63-7 and outgain them by the margin Tennessee did, you feel good about it. But if nothing else, it’s a game where you get some confidence, especially on offense where those guys are trying to make us all forget last year’s atrocities. It’s a chance for the freshmen and new players to get some game action, as every little bit of experience helps. Western Kentucky was the perfect opponent for Lane and Company to open up with.

My view from Section F (click to enlarge)

Looking ahead, I think this team could be pretty tough to beat in Neyland Stadium this year. If the crowd was like it was for Western Kentucky – and those of you who were there hopefully agree with me on this – how will it be when Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina come to visit?

Which leads me to my next bold statement: I see absolutely no way UCLA comes into Knoxville next week and beats Tennessee.

There, I said it. First off, anytime you travel across the country to play, you’re at a disadvantage. See LSU last night at Washington, Maryland getting rocked at Cal, our own Vols the past two seasons and Cal coming here in 2006. Kevin Prince is UCLA’s starting QB. He was 18-of-29 for 176 yards, and threw two picks against one touchdown. That was at home, against San Diego State.

Next week he’ll be dealing with the Tennessee defense. In Tennessee’s stadium. Against a group of players and coaches and fans that want to right the wrong of last year’s embarrassing loss. And do it emphatically in front of a national TV audience on ESPN.

Yes, yes, I know we all said the same exact thing last year. But if not for horribly inept coaching (throwing 41 passes Dave Clawson and letting Kevin Craft dink-and-dunk you down the field John Chavis), Tennessee wins that game. UCLA has certainly improved, but this time they get the dubious honor of making the long trip. We all already are aware (boom, alliteration!) of the importance of this game to the rest of the Vols’ season. Tennessee absolutely has to beat UCLA next Saturday.

As soon as the Vols had the first couple of touchdowns yesterday and settled into the complete domination they displayed, my thoughts were already on UCLA. Hence why I’ve spent the last half of this post talking about next Saturday.

Anyways, here’s the video I took of the Vol Walk from yesterday (please know it’s long and my camera steadiness was lacking…you try holding your arm up that high for that long):

YouTube Preview Image

About Home Sweet Home... … to me.

From the Ashes Rises a Phoenix: Western Kentucky Postgame Thoughts

No Pass Out Checks | Gate 21

Western Kentucky vs. Tennessee












Well, there are so very many positive things to say about this game that it is hard to really know where to start, thus, I’ll just start at the top, here are the stats for the game:

Team Stats
Western Kentucky Tennessee
First downs
3rd Down Efficiency
1-for-11, 9%
7-for-9, 78%
4th down efficiency
0-for-1, 0%
0-for-1, 0%
Passing Yards
Return Yards
Sacks-Yards Lost
Fumbles Lost
Penalties – Yards

The stats speak loudly.  Tennessee racked up a whopping 710 total net yards.  Last season the Vols managed only 3,225 yards on the season, today they produced over 20% of last season’s total yards in a single game.  They scored more points than they have since the 2000 game against the Arkansas Razorbacks.  Even more surprising was the balance in the offensive yardage between the pass and the run.

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2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 6

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by:

Rocky Top Talk

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by Rocky Top Talk and serves up another installment of questions burning in the minds of the orange-clad denizens who follow the Tennessee Volunteers.

In the interest of full disclosure, HSH sent me his responses to this week’s questions earlier in the week.  In theory, I was then supposed assemble a post including my answers along with his.  In theory, this sounds simple … in theory.  Reality is quite a different matter.  I have been woefully unreliable in terms of my posting of late due to my “real life,” and more specifically, my “real job.”

Thus, as a result of me being completely backed-up in preparation for an upcoming trial (a/k/a “evidence manipulation conference”) I am yet again forced to punt—at least for the moment.  This is particularly annoying considering how great the questions are this week.  Thus, for now the only answers I have to offer are those from HSH—which is probably a good thing considering that he actually knows what he’s talking about.  I will try to add in my responses later, if possible.  Until then, however, here are HSH’s thoughts for the week:

Week 6

1) Which newcomer do you expect to play the most total snaps for the Vols this fall?

bullet HSH: Well, by the looks of things, we know for sure it won’t be Bryce Brown, though he may be the best talent of the freshmen.

Though I have trouble remembering him actually being a freshman, it almost has to be Montori Hughes at defensive tackle, simply because of the lack of depth at defensive tackle and the sore, wobbly knees of senior end-turned-tackle Wes Brown.  With Brown’s knees, its almost more a question of when as opposed to if they’re going to take him out of action.  I have to take this moment to say his never-quit attitude and what he’s been saying about his situation has him rapidly climbing up my favorite 2009 Vols.

Back to Hughes, I said he doesn’t seem like a freshman because of three things: first, he’s obviously from the 2008 class out of Siegel High School in middle Tennessee, but didn’t qualify.  Secondly, he enrolled in January, so he was in for the spring, so it’s like he’s been at UT for longer than the other freshman.  Finally, it’s because he’s a very large man.  Either way, it’s clear he’s moved up to the third tackle spot, behind Williams and Brown and ahead of Victor Thomas, Rae Sykes and Marlon Walls.

But given the situation at defensive tackle behind Big Dan Williams, Hughes has to be the freshman who will see the most action.

As for the “true” freshman with the most impact, I’ll say receiver Marsalis Teague.  I went to last Thursday’s practice and last Saturday’s scrimmage, and Teague had some impressive plays.  I think Gerald Jones and Brandon Warren will be the top 2 wideouts, but Teague is my third (and Quintin Hancock fourth), given the injury to Denarius Moore.  Also, Teague seems like more a pure receiver than Nu’Keese Richardson in my opinion.

bullet Lawvol: (Long thoughtful pause followed by a longer, yet less thoughtful, sucking sound…)

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Recruiting, Recruiting, Recruiting

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Tennessee’s quarterback situation is no secret. As of now, Nick Stephens is the only scholarship QB slated to be on the roster this time in 2010, pending the likely addition of junior college QB Nick Lamaison, who would join the Vols when practice opens up in a couple weeks. This is what happens when you fail to recruit a QB for a couple of consecutive years, and obviously it’s certainly an uncomfortable situation.

Adding even more discomfort are two things involving this year’s QB class: first, by most accounts it’s a “down” year – as in there’s no true standout(s). Second, UT has swung and missed on a number of QB targets up to this point, almost to the point where frantically pressing the big red panic button becomes an acceptable behavior.

Nevertheless, Tennessee has one last – and slightly fading – glimmer of hope in Jesse Scroggins. As you probably know, Tennessee’s been in the mix with Scroggins for quite awhile, and all that work will come to a conclusion sometime tomorrow, when Scroggins is slated to announce his decision between USC, the hometown school, Tennessee and Florida. Most feel Scroggins is a Trojan lock. I accepted this as the outcome about a month ago, when SC offered him a scholarship following an impressive camp performance.

TUESDAY NIGHT MINI-UPDATE: Jesse Scroggins has pushed back his announcement to Thursday at noon Pacific, 3 p.m. Eastern time, according to VolQuest and VolNation message boards, which are getting this information from Scroggins’ MySpace page. It seems to me that if he was going to USC, he would have just come out and done so already, or done so with his teammate, safety Dion Bailey, who committed last week. I still think he’s a Trojan, but I’ll just say this: if he commits to Florida, I’ll literally throw up.

Jesse Scroggins announces tomorrow Thursday

After Scroggins, I have NO IDEA where Tennessee will turn next in their search for a QB.

Looking at the bigger picture, however, the following of recruiting has blown up in the last decade or so, thanks in large part to sites such as Rivals and Scout. Some of you may have have dived head-first into the phenomenon, others of you may not have even heard of Jesse Scroggins or may not even be able to name a current Tennessee commitment.

As for me, I didn’t really begin following the year-round recruiting season until I went to college back in 2006. But since then, I’ve probably procrastinated more time by looking at recruiting sites and following the various message boards rumors and what-not than I should have. Why? Because it’s addictive.

However, I’m a relatively glass half-full type of fan, so amidst all the hoopla surrounding the college choices of high school seniors, I try not to get caught up to much into it all. So, as it relates to this year’s class and more importantly tomorrow’s Scroggins decision (and the likely impending meltdown), I’ve offered five reasons why fans shouldn’t be losing any sleep over recruiting at this point in time.

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